Energy In Depth's Shawn "Two major pipeline announcements were made last week that will help relieve the proposed bottleneck of natural gas liquids (NGLs) being produced in Ohio, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania. The Appalachia-to-Texas Express (ATEX) Pipeline and the Bluegrass Pipeline are both currently being constructed to transport the growing NGL output to rapidly expanding marketplaces and chemical manufacturers who use these liquids as feedstock.

Pipeline infrastructure has been a hot topic in Ohio since Utica Shale development has turned up a plethora of NGLs.  This commodity brings with it many benefits for operators and landowners, since it sells at a premium compared to natural gas. But delivering this value to consumers and Ohio businesses has suffered from a bottleneck, owing to a limited pipeline infrastructure.

Currently, Ohio has seven natural gas processing plants costing over $7.2 million in different stages of operation and construction.  The MarkWest Plant in Cadiz is already processing 185 Mmcf/d, with more capacity to be online later this year, while the M3 plant’s first phase is scheduled to come online this summer.  Even with those plants processing NGLs, operators are still forecasting a bottleneck in transmission that threatens to further slow down development.

It has been estimated that the western Marcellus and Utica has the potential to produce 500,000 barrels of NGLs a day by 2018.  To put that in perspective, Dominion’s Natrium Plant in West Virginia is only able to process 200 Mmcf/d and fractionate 36,000 barrels of NGLs per day. This is only seven percent of the region’s potential by 2018.

That sounds a bit technical, but it basically boils down to this: If the infrastructure is not in place to handle this added capacity of natural gas liquids, operators will be forced to slow down development – costing Ohio billions of dollars in investment and putting at risk thousands of jobs for our residents."


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